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NOW With Alex Wagner

News/Business. Alex Wagner. Forces driving the day's stories. New.

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Boehner 11, John Kerry 11, Washington 8, Susan Rice 7, Nancy Pelosi 4, Nra 4, U.n. 3, Val 3, Syria 3, Warfarin 3, Dr. Emmanuel 3, Andrea Mitchell 3, Richard Engel 3, Huffington 3, Alex 2, Celebrex 2, Connecticut 2, Scottrade 2, Adam Lanza 2, Katrina 2,
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  MSNBC    NOW With Alex Wagner    News/Business. Alex Wagner.  
   Forces driving the day's stories. New.  

    December 18, 2012
    9:00 - 10:00am PST  

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to lunge heroically with nothing in her hands, but she takes him out, takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids. >> as for the nra, the organization has remained conspicuously quiet since friday, but according to the "new york times", that may be part of the plan. "over the years the n.r.a. has perfected its strategy for responding to mass shootings. lie low at first, then slow-roll any legislative push for a response." joijs now is former congressional candidate and former orlando police chief val dennings who went up against the m.r.a. with the support of mayor bloomberg, lost her congressional race this november. val, thanks so much for joining us. we have many questions for you. >> good afternoon, alex. it's good to be here. >> val, let's first talk about what it's like to be on the other side of the n.r.a. it's worth noting that you carry a consealed weapon yourself. you have a long career in law enforcement, and, yet, the n.r.a. gave you an f. were you surprised at the amount of vitreal directed at you by
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the nra? >> i spent 29 years in law enforcement carrying a gun every day in that profession, grew up around guns. my dad was an avid hunter. i still have a consealed weapon and still continue to care a gun. i am a strong supporter of the second amendment, but it wasn't enough for the nra, and so i have to ask the question too why would they not support a person with those credentials? i think there's obviously something else at work there, and i think that their silence speaks volumes actually. >> val, when we talk about the power of the nra, mayor bloomberg said their power in the political sphere is a myth, and yet, you have the support of mayor bloomberg, but i didn't win your race. i guess following that loss how optimistic are you that other democrats or republicans can stand up to the nra and actually win re-election or election? >> let me say this, alex, what we need to do is stand up for what's right. this is not about republicans. it's not about democrats. it's not about electrics.
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i lost my race because of -- now it's time for us to get out of our comfort zone. 20 small, precious, adorable children have been killed, and if now is not the time, then i have to ask myself when will the time be right? this is not a time for politics. this is a time for action, and it begins today. >> i want to open this up to our panel here in new york a little bit. ben, i ask you in terms of the nra's silence in that morning times proposition that this is their effort, this is sort of their playbook. to stay quiet and eventually it will go away. a, do you agree with that, and, b, do you think this time is any different? >> this time does feel different. something really interesting happened this morning which is a huge venture capital fund announced it's going to dump this giant manufacturing conglomerate it put together, and the first three paragraphs were released about how sad they are about the massacre, but the
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last one is how it's become a risk to them to hold this in their portfolio. >> they manufacturer something like 31% of semiautomatics. >> they manufacturered the gun that was used. i think it's too late -- >> katrina, i want to read an excerpt. sam stein and paul bloomenthal have an interesting read in the huffington post talking about the strength of the nra which we all anecdotally agree is financial power. sam and paul make the point that it's actually their grassroots network, and i'll read an excerpt. the group's great clout lies in the sheer number of people it can mobilize. the nra boasts 4 million members who approximate t spends a large piece of its budget engage,
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communicating with members constituted one-fourth of $57 million in 2010. the most recent year for which tax filings were available. that is a far higher amount than the m.r.a. spends on lobbying or campaign ads underscoring the grassroots nature of the group. >> what's interesting what's emerged in the wake of this tragedy is that the n.r.a. may not speak for its rank-and-file. when you look at polls, i believe conducted even by frank luntz, republican pollster, i think it's 78% of nra members support a criminal background children. we have a piece at the nation.com by our washington reporter which raises the question of whether the nra is really there for gun owners or for manufacturers. it speaks a little to what ben was saying. that they represent and lobby for these gun companies, which are feeling the heat and one hopes that the 2005 law which shielded gun companies from liability regarding gun violence, is looked at very hard. i think the key thing, and joe palafano, the chief domestic
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policy advisor spoke of in the wake of the tragedies of 1968 the assassination of martin luther king, of bobby kennedy, that johnson and palaphano knew that time is of the essence, and i think that's made even more starkly in light of what we now know about the nra's strategy in the wake of tragedy after tragedy, columbine, virginia, aurora, now. i'm hoping that the political will is strong because the time for meaningful conversation will be with us forever, but the time for political action is now. >> karen, peggy noonan is advocating much the same, actually, in the "wall street journal" saying do something, do anything, but do it now. >> absolutely agree, and i think it's critical. the "new york times" wrote a great piece over the weekend about some of the members that the department of justice looked at after aurora that can be done without congress, that the president could take action on this week if he wanted to. i hope that that's part of the conversation that is going on in the white house about sort of looking at steps going forward. here's the thing that i think the reason why we have to press
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the action now is we do know this game from the nra. they're going to be quiet. they're going to come back. they're going to start knocking on those doors again on the halls of congress, and that's exactly what they do. i also think we need -- i wrote a piece for the hill today, reframe this conversation because when we talk about gun control, that plays into the right-wing paranoia narrative about, you know, they're going to take your guns, obama is going to take your guns. we can't sign this u.n. treaty and all that paranoia. what about gun safety? we're talking about human behavior. we're talking about human behavior if somebody is mentally unstable, they shouldn't have a gun. we're talking about the reality of human behavior that if you have a magazine clip that can fire off 30 rounds, you're probably not using that to go hunt deer. >> joe scarborough of this network, i think, reframed the debate. he is a long-time nra supporter and nra supported, but i think it's important to think about the gun issue. not individual rights pitted against government control, but
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it's a matter of public safety. >> yeah. >> we've seen this idea that we're going to take back all the weapons. this country is saturated with -- we've seen -- 310 million guns. thank you, alex. we've seen with auto safety, for example, that you can diminish the fatalities by one-third, with tobacco. i think public safety becomes a critical framework. >> you know, take it away. from your perspective as a former police chief, i mean, you know about public safety. this is an area where the president, i think, has a lot of agreement with police officers at the local and state level. >> i mean, public safety, keeping our communities safe, our neighborhoods safe, our schools safe, our families safe really has to be the number one concern. as a mother of three sons, as a 27-year law enforcement officer, i have seen the consequences of having assault type weapons, military style weapons on the streets. i have seen the consequences of guns being in the hands of illegal or habitual felons and
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mentally ill people. one of my initiatives as the police chief was to get illegal guns off of our streets, out of the hands of criminals, and out of the hands of mentally ill people. by doing that, we were able to reduce our homicide rate by 43%. when we talk about the nra, they are a major part of this discussion. i believe their members would be in agreement that guns should not be in the hands of mentally ill persons. >> thank you so much for your perspective. invaluable, as we talk about these issues. thanks for joining us today. >> thank you. after the break, while president obama and speaker boehner try to find middle ground on tax rates, president secretary jay carney argues the benefits of raising taxes on the wealthiest. >> the president's insist ens that rates immediate to go up on the top 2% was based on an economic reality, which is that
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in order to achieve a broad deficit reduction package that puts our economy on a sustainable fiscal path in the future, a certain level of revenue gleened from the wealthy had to be -- has to be met. the balance is important because a plan that does not have it puts unduliy the burden on senior citizens or on middle class americans or on parents with disabled children. >> right-wing radio bloviator rush limbaugh wasted no time, calling carney's comments over the top shameless. >> let me spell it out for you, what jay carney said. if we don't raise taxes on the rich, a lot, if we don't really raise rates on the rich, then we're going to have more and more adam lanza because we're going to be putting a tax burden -- >> he is still talking.
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>> over the fiscal cliff if the last few days. the result -- >> boehner has tax rates -- tax increases to those making over $700,000. house republicans in a private
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meeting -- >> we're going to also mroouf to plan b. our plan b would protect american taxpayers who make $1 million or less. >> gop aides describe the plan as a precautionary measure to insure taxes do not rise for most americans on january 1st. independent of the revenue question both sides continue to have differences on the side. with the speaker saying revenue increases must be matched by corresponding spending cuts, and on the subject of those spending cuts, president obama is also running into opposition from the
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left. raw deal was the headline on the huffington post website while moveon.com condemned obama's effort to cut. it may abe good sign that the two teams are suited up and ready to play. after all, the fact that they are playing in the same ballpark in washington is no small feat. joining us now to sort it all out is nbc's luke russert. >> independent of the irony, as karen finney points out of the republican supporting plan b, not lost on the -- >> they absolutely heard from women in the 2012 -- on to plan b. >> what is plan b? there's now back and fourth. in the minutes leading up to this show the white house repleased a response saying that boehner wasn't playing ball and boehner's office released another response. what does plan b represent? is this just a stop gap measure to get us past january 1st? >> no. plan b is a negotiating tactic used by speaker boehner that would allow him to say if all
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these talks fell apart something that he said before which is the house has done its job. the senate and the white house couldn't get their act together. we passed something out of our end, and we're trying to work on this problem. it's something they usually fall back on. what's interesting here, though, alex, is a few things. one, plan b is that tax cuts would go up for those making a million or above. obviously, you've heard the president would like that number to be 400. there's still a lot of members of the house, gop conference that would not accept taxes going up on $1 million or above. we spoke to a few coming out of that meeting and asked if they would support a plan. they would not elaborate on if they would or vote against it. it's not a straight easy whip. especially because democrats have now come out and said it is not -- it does not do enough to reduce the deficit. overall it's a negotiating tactic. it buys the speaker some cover. from really the gist of that press conference, if nothing else is we are still working on a larger deal. there is a way out of the forest
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the president would like to see that number differentiated from $1.2 trillion to $850 billion. all that being said, we are a lot further along than we were last week. there's at least a pathway out of the woods. it depends whether or not these guys want to get on it at the same time. there is a way forward now. >> a pathway out of the woods. i'm having a hard time seeing the forest through the trees. this is a smoke screen plan b. you remain convinced that the grander bargain is still on the table, and if so, what's the timeline on that, because you know, everyone is supposed to go home for the holidays on friday. >> if they are to have some sort of large scale agreement, i believe that it would come together in the next few days. today, wednesday, and thursday are the most important days in all these negotiations. they would say they're very close. they have an agreement. folks that go home for christmas and pass the 27th or 28th.
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there's going to be some sort of down payment upwards of $100 off the top, and then you would have in caps in place, and speaker boehner alluded to this today in the press conference. it wasn't reported very much, which is that you would see entitlement reform and tax reform in 2013. a larger deal would say, okay, here are the numbers that we're going to work towards as a congress in 2013. this much cuts in entitlements. this many cuts in tax reform. this much -- sorry. this much revenue redee rooifed from tax reform. this is what congress has to work towards. that's where we're going to go. so is that -- that's why i say there is a pathway forward. we know what it would look like. we just don't know what the numbers are, ask that's what the arguments are going on back and forth. it's a lot easier to argue about numbers than it is about a pathway. >> i want to open this up to our panel. katrina, there's a lot to parse here.
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>> you are seeing the blowback. i will move on.org has a campaign about that. hands off social security, medicare, medicaid. republicans are demanding benefits to medicare, medicaid, and social security as part of the fiscal showdown. senate democrats have the power to make sure that doesn't happen. constituents are finding out who among them is weaken-kneed, who is part-way there and who is a champion committed to opposing any deal that cuts medicare, medicaid, and social security benefits. >> let me step back, alex. s first of all, i believe we just had an election in which americans voted to re-elect the president with a very clear sense of priorities. one of those is an earned benefit. people have paid into it with hard work. it seems to me that the elderly are still very insecure. many are suffering. to me the problem with what we're discussing is that the framework of this debate is so
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skewed, so wrong because we don't have a short-term deficit problem. we have a jobs and growth problem. i know people are agonizing. paul crudeman is agonizing about where it can did go. it's legitimately. is no -- is no bargain a better bargain than a raw bargain? it seems to me to make a deal on the backs of the most vulnerable in our country is the worst way to go. i don't think we're looking at balance. to me the way the media has characterized balance is so wrong because the vulnerable, the middle class, the lower working class don't have lobbies in washington where. >> democrats say we have to reform earned benefit programs. they call them entitlements. >> they control the house of representatives. it's not something you can wish away. it's not -- >> i know. there are no good solutions. >> i think this is why obama
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drives progressives like katrina crazy because his first move is to go to the table -- because his first move is to go to the table, to, you know, to find a deal with john boehner, and the language, you know -- the quantity of met fors. >> it doesn't drive me crazy because i don't believe in the great man theory of history. i look at the structure of his politics and what he confronts, but i also believe that 23 we're going to have a democracy, electrics should matter in a very clear signal with some very clear on this issue. in that regard i think it's important to speak up, and it's not just progresssives. it's citizens of conscience and people who are worried about the future. >> the conversations that have been going on in reaction to these deals. this is where people have to -- continue to apply the pressure to hold people's feet to the fire. we did just have an election. as we know, you know, members of congress get a little weak-kneed and start looking at the clock. >> this is the tea party playbook. the week-kneed gradient.
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where are you? is that an a rating from the nra or an f rating in the nra? >> the phones should be ringing off the hook. emails should be going crazy. members of congress and plenty of republicans have people in their districts who will be harmed by this deal. they need to hear from them, and so i think it's so important that groups continue to mobilize people, not just talk in the media, but mobilize their people to express their outrage. >> as far as this million dollar threshold, we've talked a lot in the months prior about this being sort of the sticking point, the threshold, but nancy pelosi was on record. she was on charlie rose, speaker boehner's office points this out, saying, look, let's just raise taxes on millionaires. is it difficult for house democrats to walk that back now that they've been on the record saying that? >> not particularly. i mean, we understand the gop is very good at their communication strategy. they'll say this was nancy pelosi's plan. this was chuck schumer's plan.
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they say they won't even support a tax cut for those making a million dollars or below. i think since so much of this is focused on the president and speaker boehner, it shouldn't be too much of a hiccup. it will get a lot of play in the kwfsh blockosphere. hopefully we'll see that on andrea mitchell in just 30 minutes. >> well done. >> it shouldn't be a sticking point in the long run because this is much more just a negotiating ploy. there's still real hope for a larger deal, and the last thing i'll throw in there, and i asked speaker boehner about this today, the tragedy in connecticut, do you really want to have an elongated partisan heated battle with that as the back drop, of the country still very much in mourning, and he said to me that americans shouldn't have any more stresses after that. if you look at how the talks have expedited, especially since friday, i do sincerely believe this tragedy in kuhn conhas sort of given these leaders an opportunity to say, you know what, we need to put aside the
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heavy part sfwlan rhetoric, at least try to move towards something, les we look like we're even where we were just a few weeks ago, which no one thought even was possible. >> it's a reminder of the job that they were sent there to do, and, you know, an important reminder in the face of tragedy. nbc's luke russert, thank you, as always. we'll be talking to you throughout the week, my friend, and as luke mentioned, andrea will be speaking with nancy pell pel owesy in the next hour. coming up, the link between violence and mental illness is far from direct. we will talk theorys and resources when dr. zeek emmanuel joins us just ahead. oh, let me guess --ou see this? more washington gridlock. no, it's worse -- look, our taxes are about to go up. not the taxes on our dividends though, right? that's a big part of our retirement. oh, no, it's dividends, too. the rate on our dividends would more than double. but we depend on our dividends to help pay our bills. we worked hard to save. well, the president and congress have got
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>> are we doing enough from my mental health perspective to reach out to kids and families who are obviously in trouble? my sense is we are not, and we need to look within our own state, within our own nation. >> as details emerge about suspected shooter adam lanza, connecticut governor dan malloy is calling for a broad response that improves mental health services with more stringent gun laws. for some on the right mental
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health is -- >> don't think this tha this country has addressed the mental health issue. >> that may be true, but according to the medical journal the lancet less than 3% to 5% of all crimes in this country involve people suffering from mental illness. yet, quote, "ironically, the question of whether the insane should be allowed to bear arms becomes the only publicly permissible way to talk about questions of gun control. meanwhile, a host of other narratives, such as the mass psychology of needing so many guns in the first place or the anxieties created by being surrounded by them remain oft unspoken. joining me now is former white house advisor on health policy dr. zeek emmanuel. dr. emmanuel, it is always great to see you. thanks for joining us. >> hi, alex. nice to be here. >> so, zeek, let's talk about these various threads that have emerged since friday, and the
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first piece is the mental illness question, which clearly there are no -- there are no answers to this. the linkage that we're seeing, people are drawing a direct causal link between violence and mental illness doesn't seem to exist. as i said, the lancet says that less than 3% to 5% of american crimes are -- involve people with mental illness, and in fact, it's mentally ill that are more likely to be victims of crimes than perpetrators. >> so let's go back and, first of all, set a little bit of the table around mental illness. about 5% or 6% of the american population has serious mental illness. now, many of us will have transitory mental conditions, conditions related to situational depression or other things, but about 5% have serious mental illness. the second thing i think that is very important for people to understand is that this is we have a lot of people that get mental illness when the economy gets bad. unemployment adds a lot of stress to people, so, for
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example, we have seen depression increase by 50% over the course of the early parts of the decade between, say, 2002 and today. that's really related to a bad economy. we also know that one of the big problems of mental illness separate from violence is actually suicide. these people are much more likely to have intentional injuries and unintentional injuries when people with mental illness and a large part of that is suicidal, and here we have a case, obviously, of a murder suicide and so they -- that can be very much related to mental illness. it is much more tenuous. i don't think we should really confuse the violence and the mental illness. we have people who are mentally ill giving them the means to create big violence is a problem that needs -- that is independently addressed.
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>> but the sort of the take-away from this discussion has been we need better resourcing in terms of mental health, and i guess i want your opinion on this, seeing as you are deeply involved in the affordable care act. in terms of what's happening on the state level, budgets are being cut, i believe. the national alliance on members of the jury illness says since fiscal year 2009 states have cut $1.7 billion if nundz for state mental health budgets. how does the affordable care act deal with that in terms of dealing with those that need mental health counseling. >> the most important thing that the affordable care act does in terms of mental health is to give everyone insurance, and a large portion of the people i think it's over 10% of the people who are going to get medicaid have mental illness problems. as you might imagine, many people with mental illness have difficulty holding down jobs or if they have jobs they tend to be part-time or temporary, and they are the population that have difficulty getting employment-based insurance.
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if they're single, or childless adults. probably the biggest mental health push in the country will be getting people who have mental illness insurance by expanding the insurance package and i think that is going to be key to addressing some of these problems. in addition, there are some programs in the bill to enhance the coordination between the mental illness and the physical health problems. one of the things we know is that many of the people with mental illness have a lot of unsolved physical problems as well. to get them more coordinated will both increase the efficiency of the system in terms of getting them better services and more coordinated so that the actual cost is reduced. i think that's going to be the biggest impact. i would also say, alex, that by the end of the decade, i'm anticipating people that don't really address mainly physical
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problems, so the internal medicine doctors, the pediatricians, they're going to have a renewed focus on mental illness because we know that some of the biggest problems of people who have chronic illness who really cost the system a lot is that they are mental. they have mental illness as well often because of their chronic illness or their mental illness causes their physical problems, and so i think addressing both of those is going to become the theme as we progress in the decade. we're going to realize we really need to do a much more holistic approach. >> certainly. i mean, and i want to open this up to our panel here. in temz -- we have focus, and katrina, i would ask you this, there's been an argument about the individual versus the community. we have to band together. there has to be a system in place. the social safety net has been torn assunder, or attempts at shredding it. this makes the case for a more vibrant safety net in terms of providing for those that need -- >> so many tragedies have. i think of hurricane sandy, which also promoted the idea of we must be a community, not just
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individualistic actors, but it's very important what dr. emmanuel said. i haven't looked at what this grand bargain may lead to, but if it leads to further cuts in mental health funding and also the irony that in states where you have governors, for example, who are pushing hard for consealed weapons, those are the very states where people, the governors, have pushed back on medicaid, which as dr. emmanuel said, is so critical for so many with members of the jury illness. i think the conversation about mental illness is critical. what i would just say is don't let it lead to a resignation or a turning away from the importance of gun safety because that has to remain fused in a sense. treat mental illness. don't criminalize those, but more treatment, care, and attention to making sure that you don't get that bushmaster weapon in the hands of someone. think of pumping, what is it, three to four rounds into each small child. i mean, without that, it's still dangerous, but you reduce the possibilities of such tragedy.
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>> i think we also have to focus on, again, owning a gun is not just a right, but a responsibility, and so let's focus on behaviors, right? so if you have a history of mental illness, we have a right to know certainly if you are going to buy a gun, that ought to be a factor as to whether or not we believe you are able to be responsible with that gun. violence against women act, still sitting there. some would say that that kind of violence is also a kind of mental illness. he was prone to abuse their spouse. there's all kinds of behavior we know that when you combine that with the presence of a gun, that you increase the chances that somebody is going to get hurt. >> i was going to say that one other thing that i -- as we proceeded in this debate, there has been some talk, although i think it's off the table, but
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who knows, of black granting medicaid to the states and giving them the money and let them decide how they're going to spend it. one of the problems, though, with that has traditionally been that mental illness hasn't received in the block grant situation as much attention. it tends to fall off the plate, as it were, and i think also the safe -- the sort of catch in the requirements of the program tend to be less when you block grant it, so i think as we go forward in this fiscal debate, when we're considering medicaid and the importance of medicaid for the mental health coverage piece, we need to keep that in mind. i would say the second thing going forward is some states actually did increase spending on mental health. connecticut, actually, was one, which has increased some spending on mental health, but we need to remember those numbers are relatively small, so it's about $40 million. when you have 5% of the population with serious mental illness, that is not going to be
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enough to cover it. we have to keep that in mind. >> dr. zeke emmanuel, your expertise is always appreciated. >> nice to see you, alex. coming up, republicans have so far given positive reviews to senator john kerry's expected nomination as secretary of state, but might the gop have an altrr motive in its newfound kerry love. we'll explore that just ahead. ♪ the weather outside is frightful ♪ ♪ but the fire is so delightful ♪ nothing melts away the cold like a hot, delicious bowl of chicken noodle soup from campbell's. ♪ let it snow, let it snow
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can i still ship a gift in time for christmas? yeah, sure you can. great. where's your gift? uh... whew. [ male announcer ] break from the holiday stress. ship fedex express by december 22nd for christmas delivery. senators mccain and kerry poked fun at john kerry's secretary of state prospects even before ambassador susan rice withdrew from contention. >> thank you very much, mr. secretary. [ laughter ] >> thank you very much, mr. president. [ laughter ] see, this is what happens when you get two losers up here.
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we are just having fun. >> so how close are we to a kerry announcement and what cabinet pick will sit on the hot seat next? we'll look inside the president's cabinet coming up next.
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after hounding u.n. ambassador susan reese medical they withdrew, it appears that republicans will finally get their choice to be president obama's secretary of state. >> i'm john kerry, and i'm reporting for duty. >> of course, back in 2004 not only did republicans not want john kerry to report for duty, they believed he was exactly the wrong man for the job. >> john kerry betrayed the men and women he served with in vietnam. >> he dishonored in country. >> i searched with john kerry.
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john kerry cannot be trusted. >> since the swift boating of john kerry eight years ago, there has now been, to put it mildly, a change of heart from those on the right. >> i think john kerry would be an excellent appointment and would be easily confirmed by his colleagues. >> if the president wants an easy confirmation hearing and an easy confirmation process, what he would do is nominate john kerry, who is eminently qualified to be secretary of state. >> of course, these same senators were the ones to torpedo u.n. ambassador susan rice's nomination, but their kerry love fest isn't based solely on the fact that he happens to not be susan rice. if kerry moves on to the state department, republicans will have a shot at picking up another senate seat. a special election would be held for his replacement opening the door for scott brown who made sure to leave the door open for himself on the way out. >> as i have said many times before, temporary victory -- defeat is temporary. depending on what happens and
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where we go, all of us, we may meet again. >> the washington post reports that barring any unforeseen developments, president obama is expected to nominate kelly this friday and the man republicans used to accuse of twisting in the wind. still, while republicans may think they're getting a carmic do-over by repairing the damage they did to him in 2004, the ill will accrued in the susan rice debacle may prevent them from err having a clean bill of spiritual health. you can guess where i stand on this, karen. i think the way susan rice was treated is deplorable. i think john kerry has served this country admirably. i do not want to cast aspurjones had his potential nomination, but the fact that it's all shaken down like this is really a black mark, i think, on the way the republicans have conducted themselves on capitol hill. >> it's absolutely disgusting, although you think about the fact that they actually got ahead of the potential preferred to be named as swu state or even potential for swuf state and used that against her on this
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benghazi piece. they actually had a masterful strategy. it was disgust and depickable, but it actually was pretty well played out. >> the other name is chuck haggle for defense. i think name twoing white men in the same week when you just saw an african-american woman who is well qualified, overly qualified, get treated that way, and the new cabinet that looks like -- probably not a smart strategic decision. it may be a while before we get those names kind of facilitied out a little bit. >> i think the strafing of susan rice was despicable, but i do think the nomination of any secretary of state or any cabinet appointment is an opportunity to probe what this administration's foreign policies are. i would like to hear barbara boxer, tom udall raise questions about what are the president's powers in the "war on terror?"
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do you believe climate change is a clear and present danger. what are you going to do about a global check recovery? what are you going to do about the hyper militaryization of our government? iran, the middle east? there are questions about afghanistan? are we going to exit as planned? there are a set of fundamental questions that have been lost in the republicans kind of show trial of susan rice that need to be asked because we're in a very complex period. >> instead it was she's really tough, right? >> would you never say that about a man. >> sarah palin said she is not very bright. >> it's funny because kerry looks a lot like the right kind of guy to be secretary of state in this sort of central casting. susan rice has something that he doesn't which great secretaries of state often have is being extremely close to the president. one is usually an international rock star like hillary clinton who brings any foreign leader wants to meet because she's healthing healthing. the other is someone who just obviously speaks for the president, like jim bakker did.
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kerry falls in between. that's not an ideal. >> i think he has -- i have a column in the washington post dotcom about this. i think kerry has good instincts. if you go back to reagan and the latin american period when this country was intervening in really ugly ways, kerry stood up and spoke effectively about a different latin american policy. he might well take the lead as this administration should in ending the folly of an embargo on cuba. there are a set of issues that this country would do well to take on and kerry, i think, has the confidence of, you know, of many. do you want someone so -- you've had the cyrus dance debacle. it was a might mare. let's hope we don't see that battle. if it is kerry, we don't know -- >> we go forward with optimism in our hearts. i will say, though -- >> you are a brave woman. >> susan rice's national security advisor. >> that would be the consolation prize. this is the woman that took on
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the iranians in & the north koreans and somehow we're complaining she's too tough. the irony is not lost on me. we have to leave it there. thank you to katrina, karen, and ben for joining me today. that is all for now. i'll see you back here tomorrow at noob eastern, 9:00 a.m. pacific when i'm joined by the washington post, the huffington post brian grim and eric baits and sister simone campbell. until then, find us at facebook.com/now with alex. andrea mitchell reports is coming up next. good afternoon, andrea. >> good afternoon, alex. coming up next, our exclusive interview with house democratic leader nancy pelosi. we'll talk about gun control and get her reaction to speaker boehner's so-called plan b. also, the power of the presidency when it comes to the fiscal cliff negotiations. with former clinton white house chief of staff jonathan esta. richard bloomenthal on how big city mayors are trying to get assault weapons off their streets, and our friend and colleague richard engel safely out of syria. a lot coming up next. andrea richel reports. stay with us. with scottrader streaming quotes, any way you want.
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sfwlimplts right now on andrea mitchell reports, on safe ground. our colleague richard engel and his team are free after a dramatic firefight in syria where they had been kidnapped and held for five days. >> they kept us blindfolded, bound. we weren't physically beaten or tortured. a lot of psychological torture. they made us choose which one of says would be shot first and when we refused, there were mock shootings. >> we will have more on their harrowing escape coming up. classes for other students are resuming in newtown for the first time since friday's deadly school massacre. as two more young victims are laid to rest today. in washington is the momentum for gun control finally building? house democratic leader nancy pelosi called for a ban on assault magazines like those used to kill the 27 victims in
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connecticut. >> why is it that somebody needs a magazine with 20 shots in it and have 40 lives at risk? >> we'll talk exclusively with nancy pelosi about what can be done to control guns. and, of course, the looming fiscal cliff. speaker boehner today turns to his plan b. >> our plan b would protect american taxpayers who make $1 million or less and have all of their current rates extended. >> good day. i'm andrea mitchell live in washington. we here at nbc and msnbc and our entire family are relieved and joyful today that the escape of our friends and colleagues. chief foreign correspondent richard engel, producer gazi and john questra from kidnappers in syria where they had been held out of communication for five long days and nights. we first heard